My Week Ending November 4, 2018

Here’s a summary of some of the things I learned and published this week.


(You can follow my daily readings as they happen here.  Here are a selected few from the past week.)

  • Big numbers are always impressive and so this story about the number of Gmail users is interesting reading.  And yet, what’s most important is that your email is available the moment you need it, right?  Gmail is impressive on both counts.
  • I sold poppies as a Wolf Cub and then as a Boy Scout.  I wear a poppy every year.  I buy many poppies every year!  I haven’t found a perfect solution yet.  Digital perhaps?
  • Lest you get trapped in using just one search engine, here’s a comparison of three – Bing, Google, DuckDuckGo.
  • I don’t ever recall doing this as a child but I might well have, if you follow the logic in the story.  It’s a skill that I absolutely wish I could use now.  I’d share a picture of my desk but it would be downright embarrassing.
  • Moving your iTunes library to a Chromebook might sound like a good idea until you consider how much room you’re going to need.
  • Travellers beware.  You could get your information stolen at these US airports.  Detroit Metro made the list but was nowhere near the top.
  • I’d really enjoy taking a train with these specs from Windsor to Toronto.  All the good stuff and no construction.
  • I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a class action lawsuit over not making this the default.  I remember my first smartphone had an FM tuner but I haven’t had once since.
  • Do you really need more than Google Docs for a text editor if you’re using a Chromebook?  If you do, here are options.
  • Have you ever wondered what all of those ports on your computer are used for?  Here’s a nice summary.  Another wonder – can we get a refund on the ones that we don’t use?
  • A preview of To the Orcas with Love, which will be premiered at the Bring IT, Together Conference this week.
  • I like Dropbox.  Very few people in my circles use it though.  Now added, a timeline feature.
  • These are very powerful words in education indeed.  When was the last time you heard or used them?

Blog Posts on doug … off the record

Blog Post on

BRING IT, TOGETHER 2018 – The complete schedule is now live.  Have you registered?  It’s also a reminder of the “Bring IT, Together” concept.  Why not bring a group from your school?

voicEd Radio

My on demand radio page can be found here.  The latest edition features blog posts from:

Technology Trouble Shooting 

It’s a silly thing, I know.  But, I have a daughter who knows all about ergonomics and so I do pay attention to her.

The smartphone is part of my life, I admit.  Even when I’m working at my computer like I am now, I like to see incoming notifications on the phone.

The problem is that it typically is laid flat on my desk and I’m not.

I was cleaning out a bookshelf the other day and found something from my university years.  It’s called a CalConverter.  I’d take a picture of it but it’s not terribly clean.  There’s some sort of green stuff that had dripped onto the top of it and I’m gradually cleaning it by soaking.

But, the idea behind this was to place your calculator (remember those?)  on the stand so that you can use the calculator is an ergonometric way.  There are rubber feet on the bottom to keep it from sliding and it’s adjustable for the best viewing angle.

And, it works great.  It’s off to the side with my television remote, box of Kleenex, cough candies, a CD-ROM, …

If you read above, I’ve already confessed to being messy.

Video of the Week

My post about telephones from this morning brought back memories of this song.  I hadn’t heard it in years.

My Favourite Photo of the Week

One of the joys of living near the Detroit River is to watch the boats and ships on it.  Here, during an evening dog walk is a big ship headed north.  I actually had to stop and wait for it to pass a bit so that I could get it all into the picture.  It was huge!


Thanks for reading.


Whatever happened to …

… party lines?

It was from a comment from Lisa Noble a couple of weeks ago that got me thinking about this.  I had to wait until now to post since we had to honour Hallowe’en.

I am often grateful for my in-laws, with their stovetop perk, party line phone, and other “anachronisms”. My teenaged kids have a much better sense than most of their peers of different generations of technology.

Similar to this, yes, it was with my in-laws that I learned about party lines!

They moved from the farm into town and kept their phone number.  It was one of the great ones; local code and then 3120.  There was no excuse for ever losing my girlfriend’s number!

But it was a real experience for me.  They had a rotary phone, a pulse connection, and they were on a party line.

We didn’t.  I felt so rich.



This meant that they shared the physical line with someone else.  I don’t know that they ever knew who that person was but the lady sure liked her phone.

It seemed like every time someone on our end would pick up the phone, she’d be right in there “Line, please.  Line please”, expecting you to hang up so that she could make her calls.  It used to drive my in-laws crazy – but not crazy enough to dump it.

And forget about calling in.  The connection was always busy!

Eventually, Bell cleaned things up and the party line became a thing of the past.  But, getting tone service instead of pulse was out of the question because it cost more.

So, for a Sunday, your thoughts (I’m sure those guys who live/lived in NYC and drop by here every now and again are laughing) …

  • do you have or did you ever have a party line?
  • do you know someone who has a party line today?
  • did you ever have pulse service?  How about a rotary phone?  If you had it in the 70s, it probably was chocolate, avocado, or sunshine, right?
  • when getting connected online meant using a modem and dialing in, did you rent a second line for the modem?
  • did you ever run a Bulletin Board Service and required a second line for the purpose?
  • do you remember when Bell was a monopoly for phone service?  Are you still through them or do you use a different carrier?
  • do you still have a land line today or have you given that up in favour of being available 24/7 through your smartphone?

Please dial back your memories and share where you came from via the comments below.

This is part of a regular Sunday fun series of posts – you can access them all here.

And, keep talking about the good old days and the good old things.  You might inspire a post like Lisa did or you can share your idea in this Padlet that’s collecting ideas for just this purpose.

OTR Links 11/04/2018

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.